By Cristina Goulart
Pristine natural springs, tropical waterfalls and attractive people are all images we associate with bottled water, thanks to the world of advertising.
These images suggest that bottled water is cleaner and healthier than tap water. But is it?
Most consumers don’t realize that water quality in tap water in the U.S. is actually more comprehensively and more stringently regulated than that for bottled water. Additionally, Consumer Reports’ research revealed that one-quarter of bottled water sold commercially is actually tap water packaged and sold back to us at an astronomically marked up price.
Throughout the nation, there is a growing movement on college campuses to “Take Back the Tap.” This movement urges American consumers to go back to drinking tap water and ditch the habit of buying expensive bottled water. Why drink expensive bottled water, when your tap water is probably safer, and definitely much less expensive ounce for ounce? According to the American Water Works Association, if we take into account the fact that almost 2/3 of all bottled water sales are single 16.9oz (500 mL) bottles, the cost is much, much higher: about $7.50 per gallon. That’s almost 2,000 times the cost of a gallon of tap water and three times the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline.”
Harm to the Environment
Besides making water bottling companies profitable by paying ridiculously high prices for water, the public’s bottled water habit is doing something else: It’s harming the environment. The Pacific Institute estimates that 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away every day in the United States.
Most of these plastic water bottles are not recycled. They end up in landfills and littered across the nation’s landscapes. Like so much of what is thrown onto our sidewalks and into our gutters, these plastic bottles end up in our waterways and the ocean. These plastic bottles, whole or broken down into smaller pieces, are then ingested by marine life, killing seals, turtles and other marine mammals.
Many of us are turning to efficient vehicles and to our own foot-power to get around, leaving oil guzzling cars in our garages. But what about those plastic water bottles we toss after one use? According to Food & Water Watch, bottled water production in the United States used the energy equivalent of 86 million barrels of oil to produce and transport plastic water bottles in 2007—enough to fuel about 1.5 million cars for a year.
So, what should we do? Like students are doing on campuses across the nation, we can Take Back the Tap.
- Purchase a refillable metal water bottle, fill it with tap water and take it with you.
- If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, consider the purchase of an inexpensive carbon filter system (such as the Britta pitchers.)
- If you’re concerned about there being lead in your tap water due to having old pipes in your home, get your tap water tested. If there is lead in your tap water, and you can replace the old pipes, do. If you can’t, purchase a filtering system for your home specific to lead removal.
Finally – turn on the tap, and enjoy!